What Our Analysts Are Reading – January, 2023

Navanti’s data collection and analysis are based on networks of on-the-ground researchers from all walks of life: journalists, academics, and humanitarian workers, to name a few. Our analysts also keep abreast of open source reports to inform their work. Below, these analysts have summarized and contextualized the most important pieces they have read and listened to over the past month.

Food Security

The European Commission’s recent report on “drivers of food security” provides analysis on some of the many and complex drivers of food security using the “One Health” approach, which “aims to achieve optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.” The report categorizes the main drivers into biophysical and environmental drivers; research and innovation, and technology; economic and market drivers; food value chain performance; political and institutional drivers; socio-cultural drivers; and demographic drivers. The analysis focuses on the interconnectivity between food security drivers and trends, highlighting the short- and long-term dimensions of food security and the need for policies and programs that address the immediate needs for food as well as sustainability in the long term. More recently, the availability of and access to food (affordability) worldwide has worsened due to recent system shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, while food production faces increasing environmental constraints as a result of climate changes. The report argues for systemic approach to addressing global food security and serves as a framework for informing food security policies and initiatives.


Intra-party elections among Georgia’s leading opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), saw incumbent leader Nika Melia lose out to Levan Khabeishvili. While Khabeishvili himself is a well-known politician, some within UNM have viewed his accession as further evidence that shadowy backroom politics and informal influence structures remain pervasive forces in Georgian politics. Specifically, pro-Melia factions within UNM have accused two influential UNM members, Davit Kezerddashvili and Vano Merabishvili, as orchestrating the UNM takeover through a series of shadowy deals. Whether there is merit to these allegations is unclear, as the accused and Khabeishvili himself have denied the charges; however the infighting demonstrates two important, long-term trends in Georgian politics: (1) increasingly pervasive polarization that affects all levels and sectors of government decision making and perhaps more ominously for democratic governance in Georgia, (2) a long-term degradation of opposition cohesiveness which threatens to undermine democratic processes in the future.


Against the backdrop of Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni’s energy-focused visit to North Africa, Italian energy giant Eni signed a reported $8 billion deal with Libya’s state-owned National Oil Company (NOC) to develop two offshore gas fields, the largest hydrocarbon deal Libya has seen in decades. The agreement comes as the Italian government seeks to situate Italy as a hub in the recalibration of Europe’s energy sources away from Russia and towards other sources, including North Africa. However, the investment’s political risks quickly came to the fore as Libya’s Oil and Gas Minister publicly slammed the deal as unlawful, reflecting an ongoing rift between the NOC and the oil ministry.


The U.S. special operations forces conducted a rare raid in northern Somalia, where they usually conduct airstrikes, killing Bilal al Sudani, an Islamic State (IS) leader who controlled operations across several areas of Africa. The attack also killed 10 members of Islamic State in Somalia (ISS). While ISS does not have the operational capacity to conduct attacks within Somalia that Al Shabaab does, it is reported to play a large role in coordinating IS affairs across Africa, including funding, networks and attacks in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, South Africa, and the networks between them. Al Sudani’s death therefore represents a significant setback to IS operations not only in Somalia, but potentially around the world.


Viktor Medvedchuk, the former head of the now-banned pro-Russian Ukrainian party Opposition Platform – For Life (OPZZh), re-emerged this month after having been sent to Russia in September 2022 along with 55 Russian soldiers as part of a controversial prisoner swap that secured the release of 215 Ukrainian prisoners of war. Medvedchuk’s return began mid-month with an article he published in Russian outlet Izvestia, which proposed that Ukrainians create a “political movement of those who have not given up” and called for a “party of peace.” Since then, he has further discussed the vague anti-Zelensky, pro-Kremlin nature of the “new socio-political movement” in an interview with Russian-state outlet RT. The Carnegie Endowment examines what the Kremlin’s strategy behind Medvedchuk’s return may mean in the context of a possible new Russian offensive, ending by expressing concern that the Kremlin may be hoping “to send in its newly minted peacemaker on the baggage train of that offensive.”